Women's History Month - Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

The last Ruler of Madagascar.

She's Crafty - Microscopic Edition!

Some really cool science inspired crafts!

Happy Birthday - Septima Poinsette Clark

The "Queen Mother" or "Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Gamer Girl Visits San Antonio

Years and years (and years) ago, I actually lived in Texas. I was 10 or 11, and we lived in a very small town in northeastern Texas. One summer, we took a family car trip and traveled around the state, spending time visiting historic spots and theme parks and natural wonders. We visited caverns and old towns and lots of road-side markers.

But on this several week trips, we never made it to San Antonio, although the reason why is long forgotten (at least by me). My parents had always talked about how romantic it was when they came here for their honeymoon, but that was *cough* 40-something years ago.

In 2013, my partner and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary by attending PAX Australia, and had a great time seeing the awesomeness that is PAX as experienced through the eyes of a whole bunch of newbies. It brings back the memories of our first PAX in 2008, and it's a great opportunity to connect with other gamers in new places.

So when the PAX people announced PAX South, we jumped at the chance to visit a new city and be a part of another "baby PAX."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kickstart This

Hey gamer/LARPer types! Have you ever wondered what the local residents think about all the hapless heroes parading through their city? Suspension of Disbelief: A Fantasy-Comedy Webseries by Benjamin Boardman is the series for you!
In the town of Arbrontith, a Hellmouth stands wide open to the living world. The Dark One fights to escape and rule the world with an iron fist. Only the heroes who populate this small, frontier village stand in his way. This is totally not their story. The Salvagers are are quartet of women trying to find a life in the midst of this chaos. They do not fight, they do not take sides. They pick up after the temporarily dead and keep themselves alive in a town full of zombies, ineffectual thieves, tentacled horrors, selfish heroes and sentient watermelons.
Sounds really fun, right?! I haven't done any LARPing, but it's always intrigued me. But when I'm playing a game, whether it's an MMO or RPG or whatever, I'm always struck by how funny it is that the AI for the NPCs doesn't allow them to have truly human reactions to things happening around them. I'm thinking of a particular event in Guild Wars 2 where a town's buildings catch on fire and you have to run around gathering water to put it out. Meanwhile, the town residents are just walking around like normal.
The show started with a few sketches about the crazy things that happen in, really, any fantasy game as seen from the NPCs point-of-view. We had a few generic townies standing in as our protagonists watching as people were assassinated in broad daylight, corrupted the basic fabric of reality and came up with the dumbest character names.

What I love most about this series is that they decided to do some gender-flipping and it only makes the story that much more awesome. The cast looks excellent, and the story looks fun.
We knew we had something special after the initial table read. We filmed the shorts over a long weekend, building the exterior porch and interior of our own Last Chance Tavern. As we edited the shorts, we began sketching out future adventures. The story took a life of its own, growing into its own fleshed out fantasy world. The more we saw of the work our cast had done, the more we knew that this show deserved more. After much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that a few short sketches wasn’t going to be enough for these women, these characters or this new world we had discovered. Taking what we had already filmed as a proof of concept and the centerpiece of the first season, we began rewriting in earnest, introducing more characters, more intrigue and more monsters for our special effects department to play with.
I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dian Fossey - scientist and activist

When I sat down to do the main research for this post, I was thinking it'd be a relatively easy post to write, with the biggest challenge finding a way to tell her story anew, or find some examples of Dian Fossey's bravery and dedication. And there are plenty of those.

But I found myself re-learning the story I'd thought I knew since watching Gorillas in the Mist so many years ago. Yes, Dian Fossey was a bad ass scientist who stood her ground to protect her beloved gorillas, and for her efforts she was horribly murdered.

Closer examination of the stories told about her during her life and after her death reveal a more complex person -- both heroic and flawed. How to celebrate the one while being honest about the other? I find it's best to start at the beginning.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lego Star Wars Friends - Come to the pink side, we have puppies!

Last week these images made the rounds and got everyone excited about fun ways to use the LEGO Friends pieces to make kick ass female warriors.

In fact, there's an entire group of LEGO enthusiasts out there building amazing pieces using ordinary bricks in new and creative (and amazing!) displays. Here's where I admit that I went looking around on the various Flickr Lego group pages and lost at least three hours of my life looking at some seriously unbelievable pieces.

By far my favorites, though, are these MOC (My Own Creation) pieces created by Frances and Tyler Sky.

By combining Lego Star Wars and Lego Friends pieces, they created Hothlake City. This highly detailed display won the "Medium Planetary Structure" trophy in the Space category at BrickCon 2014 in Seattle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kickstart This

Oh my gosh you all! You absolutely have to check out this adorable and seriously awesome young scientist's project! She's raising funds to build an aerial satellite named after The Little Mermaid Ariel. It's her Ariel Satellite. How cool and punny is that?!

This little genius princess is named Audrey Hale, and she's going to do big things one day!
In first grade I built a solar system and added the enterprise. I like to use creativity and science together. I want to be a technical engineer when I grow up. I want to change the world and solve problems with new technology that I build.

Right now I am in the 5th grade and I want to build a satellite. They are used every day, and so far I have researched nine different types. I want to learn the basics. So I found my Mom's old MAKE magazine that explains how to make it and I found the materials I need online. I have found some experts to help me learn how to do it.
So go! Go now and chip in to help this little scientist get her latest project off the ground!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Melba Liston - trailblazing musician

Melba Liston grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, during its jazz heyday when band leaders like Count Basie were rising stars on the national music scene. It's not hard to imagine the kind of influence this must have had on her own musical interests as a young child. But, even so, it is still quite remarkable that a seven year old girl would even think about playing a trombone, much less actually set her mind to it. But she did. And by the age of eight, she was playing solos on the local radio programs.

She continued to study and played in several youth bands, and in 1943 she got a big break, when she joined the big band led by Gerald Wilson. This led to more gigs with up-and-coming artists, and she toured and performed with Dexter Gordon (who wrote "Mischievous Lady" in her honor), Dizzy Gillespie (listen for her solo in his version of My Reverie), Count Basie, and even Billie Holiday.